As voters head to the polling booths in the United States and New Zealand, Americans are being promised a major review of military strategy in Afghanistan. As partners in that strategy, we should also ask ourselves: where is the exit?
In the weeks following 9/11 2001, we rushed to war in the blood-heat generated by Al Qaeda’s brutal act of mass terrorism in
Few argued against the Labour-led coalition’s immediate decision to join the hunt for Osama bin Ladin and his Al Qaeda accomplices, and punish the savage Taliban hosts who sheltered them in
Seven years later, little progress has been made towards those primary war goals. The security situation in
Other nations in the “Coalition of the Willing” are engaging in vigorous debates about the right course for resolving the conflict that racks
To date, we have been enormously lucky. The longest foreign military engagement in our short history has been managed in a manner that has not troubled the public mind. A very few casualties, no deaths, and one glowing act of heroism mark our involvement in this war – so far.
Our luck may be running out.
"There have been wins and losses in all areas and, overall, Bamiyan has been good. But there's definitely a growing [Taliban] presence. In Bamiyan they are starting to get more confident and try new things, including targeting New Zealand forces".
The Taliban are moving into the central highlands of
Life is going to get tough for our peacekeepers in Bamyan.
In a very small way, the New Zealand Government recognized the growing vulnerability of our position in
Until now, there has been no public admission that the Government has been receiving and resisting formal requests for far more significant troop commitments – and for those troops to take up combat duties instead of peace-keeping roles.
Responding to an Official Information Act inquiry, Defence Minister Phil Goff confirms that last year the Government received two formal written requests from “other countries or international organizations” to commit New Zealand troops to combat duties, and an unspecified number of requests that were “received verbally at the diplomatic level.”
Goff declines to name the nations or international organizations involved or to provide the Government’s response to their requests. He simply emphasizes that ”no New Zealand Defence Force personnel have been committed to combat-related roles or duties in
The turning point in our unquestioning commitment to combat duties under a US-led strategy seems to have come a year before that, in 2004.
The stories of inhumane and illegal treatment of detainees held captive in
On 31 March 2004, New Zealand cabinet ministers received a strange paper from their advisors in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
“In the context of the New Zealand Special Air Service deployment [material deleted] and the Provincial Reconstruction Team in
The paper shows no awareness that two years earlier the NZ SAS had captured between 50 and 70 detainees and transferred them to
The Ministry simply recommends that
More than a year later, the Ministry finally cabled the New Zealand Embassy in
“The Embassy wishes to convey to the State Department its understanding that the treatment of detainees transferred to
Pundit readers will recall that
Perhaps this act of stone-walling by the Americans was the reason that the NZ SAS has not returned to combat duties in
It certainly provides grounds to suggest that before the next New Zealand Government digs itself any deeper into the